Tag Archives: Holidays

Hiking through nature with a Lidl carrier bag……

Yes that truly happened but before I get to that… 

Last week, Mike and I had a lovely week in Crete, same place we went last year so we knew what to expect. We booked another swim up room as I have decided I can’t possibly do public poolside again as it’s much better for my ostomy 😉 

There is a trip called the Samaria Gorge which we wanted to do last year but for one reason or another never made it. So, to ensure we did it this year we pre-booked before we went. It’s basically a 16km trek down a steep gorge but with the best views nature has to offer. It’s a long old day, but well worth it. You don’t need special walking gear, trainers will suffice and a bag to carry a few essentials. 


We decided one rucksack between us would be enough, we didn’t need much, a couple of towels for the swim in the sea at the end, suncream, plasters (a change of bag kit for me) plus a few other essentials I can’t go without (lipgloss, kindle, etc.!). We decided to order a packed lunch each from reception and expected a sandwich, piece of fruit and bottle of water each, what we actually got was a lot more and two large paper bags! So we decided to keep this in a lidl carrier bag!


Now you may be wondering why we happened to have a Lidl carrier bag in Crete? Well, the all inclusive package doesn’t serve sparkling wine (I know, it’s a shocking state of affairs) but there is a fridge in the room and a Lidl down the road. So a little daily walk ensued to Lidl to purchase some bubbly for me to sip poolside. Of course we had to purchase a carrier bag for my bottles. 

So back to the hike, we’re all prepared with our rucksack, dressed in shorts, vests and trainers and up at 5.30am to catch the coach at 6am. We board the coach and there are the obligatory stops to pick up other keen explorers. At one stop, a man and his wife got on and Mike said to me – ooh we’ve got a professional. So there’s this man with his hiking boots, fancy rucksack and walking poles and there’s us with our Lidl carrier bag! All I kept saying was “we can’t go hiking in the Samaria Gorge with a Lidl carrier bag!” 


After a bit of kerfuffle at the stop prior to the gorge due to some confusion over the money paid we were a bit delayed getting off, meanwhile, Mr Pro keeps shaking his head, obviously so keen is he to get off and be first to finish (so eager he didn’t even wait for his wife when we did eventually get going). We were dropped off at the top of the gorge ready for a very steep descent down a narrow and rocky pathway and in true Brit fashion, a few of us are moaning about the delay rather than admiring the scenery. I, however, as Mike had the rucksack, had the Lidl carrier bag and kept denouncing that ‘I can’t possibly hike with a Lidl carrier bag! (A few fellow hikers did find this rather amusing). “It’s slowing me down”,I proclaimed,”I’ll be quicker if we can get rid of it”. Mike thinks it was about 1km in, I am convinced it was more like 2km, when we stopped to eat a few supplies and tie the bag to the rucksack. As it happens, I didn’t speed up but it was a relief to not be hiking with that Lidl carrier bag anymore – now it was Mike’s responsibility. 


So we trekked through beautiful scenery, it really was breath taking and I would highly recommend it. It’s definitely tough, navigating streams, rocks, boulders and narrow pathways (and very questionable toilets) but well worth it. The whole of this trek done with a Lidl carrier bag tied to our rucksack. 


Finally, after about 5.5 hours we reached the end, full of euphoria, not because we’d finished but because we were finally able to store the Lidl carrier bag INSIDE the rucksack! 


Looking forward to a swim, we stopped for a bite to eat first (and a glass of wine of course) and went down to the beach. But the wind got up so it was a bit too chilly for a swim, so the towels we packed that took up room (hence the Lidl carrier bag) weren’t used, except they did come in handy when rather windswept we got onto the boat that was to take us to our coach and we deployed them as blankets. 


I would definitely recommend the Gorge if you’re ever in Crete and if you do it, maybe stow away a Lidl carrier bag just in case…….. 

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Bollocks to the salad…

Is what I thought a couple of weeks ago when I decided to try and lose a couple of pounds for my impending holiday.

A bit of background, the last couple of months at work have been hectic to say the least, I have probably been away more than I have been at home and have basically been living out of a hotel (does a Travelodge count as a hotel?!) and a suitcase. It’s really, really hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle  when you are away so much, I really do try but sometimes the urge to give into the wine or the chocolate after a long arsed day is too much.

With only a few weeks until my holiday I decided to take action and up the health and fitness regime to shift those additional pounds that crept on. I was still working away lots and before I knew it I had 17 days to go. I can do this I thought, I will just give up everything that is nice and fun and tasty until I go away, it’s easy, I can eat mainly salad and veg and not drink wine for 17 days. I lasted 5 days, (go me!) until my sister text to say they were having Pimms in the garden and I was invited! And then I just thought, bollocks to the salad, I cannot be arsed to keep depriving myself because I am 2-3 pounds heavier than I want to be.

In the few days before the lure of the Pimms, I was miserable, I was hungry and felt tired and cranky. I just couldn’t do it to myself anymore. I’m bored of feeling bad about myself because I had potatoes for dinner or a sandwich instead of a salad for lunch. I am bored of feeling like a rabbit because all I seem to do is crunch bloody crunch all day long. I am tired of exercising iron clad willpower when it comes to not eating a biscuit or a piece of chocolate (I am still waiting for that will power to come to the surface in the face of wine!). I am fed up of trying to haul myself out of bed every morning to spend an hour in the gym and feeling guilty when I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy doing so, I want to give my body nourishment and strengthen it so it can deal with life’s curve-balls. But I don’t want to live a life of restriction that never includes a chocolate hobnob again.

I do not want to saute my broccoli, I don’t even know what sauteing is – isn’t it just a fancy word for frying?? I don’t want to eat kale and cous cous for lunch or to have to marinade my chicken for 4 hours for it to be tasty. That is why Marks and Spencer exists – so people like me can throw our veg in the microwave. I don’t like avocado and even if I did I wouldn’t want it for breakfast, I don’t want to snack on 5 almonds or take my Tupperware dish everywhere I go. So I said bollocks to it and decided that I would try to feel OK with the little extra padding and be happy instead. And weirdly enough, when  you stop stressing about food and let go a little bit your body rewards you with feeling better. I think my mum describes it perfectly –  I asked her what she had for her dinner one night and she replied with “a shit boring salad, I might just have fish and chips”!! Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to dive head first into a vat of donuts (no matter how much I want to) but I am just going to try and relax a little, maybe try thinking about my body in a positive manner instead of hating it. After all, it kept me alive during the most grueling of times and it now keeps me healthy, so I really ought to be grateful to it.

Tomorrow is the day I go away to sunny Crete and you know what, rather than stressing over my body not being the same as it was when I went away last year, I am going to enjoy the fact that I am able to go on holiday, that I can travel, that I can feel the sun on my face and make more memories with Mike, you know the important stuff. It’s a long process, trying to come to terms with your body, especially when you have an Ostomy, but I am going to really try. I have naturally ordered  champagne for my outward flight tomorrow and I may just raise a glass to my shit boring salad!!

 

Salad 2

Then and now…..

Today is the 4th anniversary of my stoma and of course it’s a day I will never forget so I think it is appropriate to mark the occasion. It was the day that would change my life for ever

Sometimes, the truth of it is that having a stoma does get me down now and then. It is hard for friends and family to understand (as great and supportive as they are) as they just see me as being healthy now and that is all that matters. But, despite the positives, having a stoma is bound to have an effect on how you feel, your body image and the problems that can come with it. But, rather than talk about being down, I figured why not compare my life to pre-bag and post-bag and see the difference?

Now, I am not saying that some of the things I have now I wouldn’t have had anyway, but a major life change can cause you to reassess your life and for things to change in ways you never though possible! So here goes…..

Pre_bag (during my Ulcerative Colitis days and before 2011)

  • I had an incredibly stressful job that took up a lot of my time, didn’t allow for me to look after myself physically or mentally and I worked a lot of hours.
  • I was unfit, exercising was off the table when one wrong move could cause me to poo myself, plus the general exhaustion from being unwell made it difficult.
  • I ate what I was able to not what was necessarily healthy.
  • I was on a concoction of strong medication, painkillers and was self-administering twice daily enemas (how glamorous!).
  • Relationships were tricky and let’s just say I didn’t always make the best choice, so I was either single or in a not so great romantic liaison.
  • Travelling/going to social occasions (e.g. concerts) was a minefield and far too stressful due to the constant worry of an accessible toilet.
  • I lived in a rented flat
  • I drove an old car
  • I didn’t have pets
  • I hadn’t been on a holiday since 2009 and didn’t have many weekends/days away

Fast forward to post-bag (and after 2011) and this is what I have

(A few pics of me now)

11709743_1617193738568927_5346085487256939301_n 10999582_1617193618568939_6528230031222443973_n 11108678_1590692264552408_8607098282259252005_n 11214163_1616377621983872_823989813056197957_n 11257961_1605933399694961_2010174981709038020_n

  • A job that I love, where I work from home and travel around the South East, I get the best of both worlds, there is a good work/life balance and because it’s a bowel cancer charity I can offer my experiences as well as fight for a very worthy cause.
  • I am so much fitter than I have ever been. This year I have managed to run a sub 60 minute 10k and a sub 30 minute 5k, plus I have been lifting weights since January and the amount I can lift has increased. Working out has become a part of my daily life and I feel so much better for it (my body has had some nice changes too – bonus!).
  • I eat whatever I want to, but am choosing to eat healthily and I have never felt so good, with so much energy. In fact, I never thought I would see the day, but I have almost gone off pizza, unfortunately the same can’t be said for my wine habit 😉
  • I don’t take any medication at all, apart from the odd Alka Seltzer after a night out ;). Or the occasional ibuprofen for normal niggles.
  • I have an amazing boyfriend, we had only been on a handful dates when I was taken into hospital, but he stuck around and 4 years later we are still together. We have a lot of fun, respect each other, make time for each other, he looks after me and I look after him and it is a GREAT relationship.
  • I have had holidays (yay) and weekends away, spa days/weekends, concerts, theatres, parties, girlie holidays, day trips and so on and I couldn’t be more appreciative. In fact I am off on holiday next week and I can’t wait.
  • I now live in a house with my boyfriend Mike and we have another property we rent out.
  • I have a nice new car.
  • I have two very cute and very mischievous kitties.

Of course my wonderful friends and family haven’t changed and have been there through it all which I am most grateful for.

So, it really helps to look at all the good stuff and what I have been able to achieve, things that once were so difficult or seemed impossible are now just part of my life. If you are going through a hard time or having to face something difficult, just remember, as much as life can change for the worse in a blink of an eye it can always change for the better just as quickly.

So, happy anniversary to me and the stoma that not only gave my life back but improved it too.

 

Cheers!

Life change

An honest account of a woman without children

I decided to write this as my sister tagged me in a great post today about celebrity women who don’t have children and their ‘quotes’ about the situation. (Read it here Here). It got me thinking, I have touched on this before but it is a subject that never really goes away. So I thought I would write about my situation.
I don’t have children, I never wanted them either, I was quite sure about that decision  but I definitely felt a pressure from society to have them. It’s as though my desire to stay child free means I am lacking in someway as a woman. By the time I hit my 30’s I was so god damn Ill with the bloody ulcerative colitis that children were the last thing on my mind. I remember a surgeon worrying about sending me for yet another X-ray as the radiation can affect fertility and I told him not to worry I had been through enough pain I wouldn’t be having a child!!!  
Of course health became more important, better to live a life without children and be healthy than constantly ill (or dead) but with a brood of toddlers. The operations I have had can affect fertility, and in particular the 2nd operation to make my stoma permanent (they remove the rectum completely), they prefer to do after you’ve had your children. But I didn’t have the choice to wait until I had or hadn’t completed my family, I needed the op. My surgeon did say everything looked perfect down there (I’d expect nothing less) but until the point comes of trying for a baby I won’t know if my fertility has been affected or not. 
I am now in a great relationship and who knows whether children will become part of our lives (through choice or not) but I do know the only pressure I feel is that of society. I am 36 so I think that means I only have 3 eggs left, I’ll be an older mum, I don’t want to regret not having them, they give you so much joy and pleasure etc. etc. 
I love that women are becoming more honest about what hard work children are, but of course that’s really scary for us in the undecided camp. Yes everyone says the rewards outweigh the not so good, but do they?? I love sleep, more than anything, I’m not sure I will ever ‘get used’ to 3 hours a night or being jumped in in the morning at 7am, or having to do stuff when I just want to watch tv. 
I like only having to worry about sorting out myself and I won’t apologise for the fact even if it sounds selfish. I like leaving the house when I want, going out for dinner, spending my money on me, having my hair and nails done and taking spa days and holidays. 
Of course there are times when my heart breaks a little at the fact I don’t have children. I see the cute little chubby babies and my heart melts, I see parents talking about the bond, the love they feel & the great times they have with their children. My heart breaks a little when I see the relationship my sister has with her daughter, they are really close and have a kind of secret language & special bond, the sort my sister and I used to have, that’s slowly being taken over by her own daughter. My heart breaks a little when I see all the mums so pleased with their little homemade gifts and cards on Mother’s Day. Yes to be child free has so far been my choice but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes or tug at my heart strings when I wonder if it’s something I’ll have (or want). Maybe if illness & operations hadn’t got in the way, life would be different, but those things did happen so now I have to deal with it. 
I am also a little obsessed with ‘one more holiday’ before children (apparently you can still go on holiday with children but I’m not sure it’s ok to drink from midday to midnight if you do!). I’m not sure I’ll ever have enough adult holidays!! 
Both my partner and I are very nurturing, we look after each other really well and we have our two little fur babies who we love dearly, but as they are young cats, we can leave them while we go out/go away, I’m not sure that’s acceptable when you have children!
So, my reasons for not having children aren’t cut and dried, just because I haven’t had the longing doesn’t mean I don’t get the heart tug, and just because I love living my life as it is it doesn’t mean I am missing out by not having mini me’s (although how can I deprive this world of another me!!). Some women just don’t have children and that is ok, whatever their reason may be, just please don’t ask every childless woman when she’ll be having babies, it’s not always that simple. 

P.S this kid free bingo made me chuckle, have a glass of champagne for each square, after all you don’t have to get up tomorrow!! 😉 Kid free bingo

Ostomy’s go viral – let’s keep it going

Yesterday was a big day for Ostomates and IBD’ers which is great news and all thanks to a couple of lovely young women. BBC Breakfast did an interview with Rachel Flint (http://adventuresofthebaglady.wordpress.com/) about life with Crohn’s and the fatigue it causes, Rachel spoke openly about her Stoma and how it changed her life for the better, a very positive view on something lots of people see as negative. Unfortunately, the interview was marred by a consultant inferring that Crohn’s is caused by a poor diet (but more of that later). This ‘surprise’ element of the interview was handled very well by Rachel and David from Crohn’s and Colitis Uk http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/ However, overall Rachel gave a positive view of living with a stoma and at least IBD was brought to the forefront and about time. Rachel’s story and her feedback on the diet issue went viral with so many shares and likes and others offering their experience.

The second positive story of the day was a young woman called Vicky who posted a picture of herself sunbathing on the beach in a bikini with her ostomy bag on full display – good for her and to date the picture has generated over 200,000 likes and goodness knows how many shares but it is more good news for Ostomates. And well done to brave Vicky who also happens to have an amazing body! So all in all a positive day of showing Stoma’s in a positive light and maybe giving hope to others who may be facing life with a stoma for whatever reason.

It has also raised awareness of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and hopefully the general public are now more aware of the effects of these types of diseases. Unfortunately I feel that Ulcerative Colitis has become the poor relation, it doesn’t get as much press as Crohn’s and seems to get brushed under the carpet at times. Of course, with Crohn’s getting press other IBD’s will naturally also get an upsurge in awareness but it is a shame that UC isn’t discussed as much as Crohn’s – but still, it’s all baby steps and it’s still good publicity. The difference between Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis is the amount of digestive tract that it affects. UC affects the large intestine (right down to the rectum and anus) whereas Crohn’s affects the whole digestive tract (throat, mouth, stomach, small and large intestine etc.). However, both diseases are debilitating, excruciating and embarrassing.

I mentioned the inference that diet could cause IBD and I would just like to say (as many others have) that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up. Many people with IBD have led a healthy life, I grew up on homemade dinners, we didn’t have takeaways and I was an active child. I had symptoms from the age of 16 and yet it took 10 years for me to get a diagnosis, by this point my intestines were so ravaged that the disease was only going to get worse. The problem in my opinion, is not diet related but lack of early diagnosis. Perhaps if doctors would take our symptoms seriously and not send us away with a diagnosis of piles or Irritable Bowel Syndrome we may get help sooner. If my diagnosis was made earlier on then I would have got medication sooner and maybe my large intestine would have stood a fighting chance and maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t be living with a permanent ostomy. This does not make me bitter, I am still glad I have my Stoma, it has changed my life for the better and I am no longer chained to a toilet. But for a medical professional to insinuate we have brought these diseases on ourselves with a poor diet, is quite frankly insulting. Of course diet affects us and our bodies, we should have a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg and the treats limited but we shouldn’t be made to feel that the odd trip to a fast food restaurant caused us to have a debilitating condition. IBD is an Auto-Immune Disorder, this means the body turns on itself and attacks healthy tissue, there is yet to be more research done to know what does cause it.

So all in all, despite the ‘diet’ issue, yesterday was a great day for people with IBD and stomas and I want to keep that going, let’s share the blogs, the pictures and the posts. Let’s quell the idea that stomas are for old people (I used to think this too, I used to joke about having a bag when I was older because of my UC) and let’s give hope to people facing having to have one, it’s not just people with IBD but people with Bowel Cancer may face a stoma too.

And you know what, you can wear whatever the hell you like, as those who follow me and read my blog know, I have never been shy about sharing the fact I wear a bag and often like to show people! The only reason I don’t share so many bikini pics is not because I am ashamed of my bag but because I am no supermodel, I don’t have a rocking bod, and no matter how much I work out and eat well I still feel I could be a good half a stone lighter (and I certainly look nowhere near as good as the beautiful Vicky). But my body got me through a tough time and I try to be proud of it but when faced with pictures on an hourly basis of people with amazing bodies it is hard not to have a negative body image (ironic that it’s my figure that bothers me not the stoma!) But as I bleat on about raising awareness and being proud of what you have then I should practice what I preach and show you what I have! Sherrill Bikini